Surveillance and Resistance

This call is now open. If you would like to talk through your research ideas, please contact the theme lead: Matthew Chalmers at U. Glasgow. 

How to design for resistance against data surveillance? Human Data Interaction offers a conceptual framework for system design that to goes beyond notions of data/algorithmic transparency, to focus on helping people understand what is happening to data about them (legibility), to change relevant systems to be in better accord with their wishes (agency), and to work with the people using the data so as to improve that processing (negotiability). Work so far in HDI generally assumes that at least one of these three features can be implemented effectively, to meet people’s needs and desires.

However, what happens when one has some understanding of what is happening with one’s data, but cannot change the system or work positively with the people processing it? Then, the collection of one’s personal data becomes something more akin to surveillance — in ways that are often driven by contemporary business models, as per the widely discussed issue of ’surveillance capitalism’. This invites the question that is at the core of this theme: what should we do when legibility, agency and negotiability are not enough?  It seems that we could then support systems and processes that allow people to resist or subvert such abusive, illegal or otherwise undesired surveillance — in ways that are not in themselves abusive or illegal. In this way, we can be build on the existing three tenets of HDI, and make resistance be a fourth part of our conceptual framework.

In this call, we are looking for proposals that directly address this question in a practical and demonstrable way, by developing technical solutions, provocations or experimental explorations. This can include (but is not limited to) software development, prototype evaluation, interface design, and other similar arts-based responses.

The funding: We hope to fund around 5 projects (1 x 50k, 1 x 10k and 3 x 2.5k), though this will be determined by the quality of the proposals. All projects must end by Sept 2021.

Deadline: 1st September 2020

The proposal form for this theme is here—please note that it differs slightly from the generic form used for other themes, elsewhere on this site. Detailed instructions on how to complete your proposal can be found on this page.